|"a haunting, beautiful perceptual delight"|
by Anna Marks for remotegoat on 27/01/17
Do I see blue in the same way as you? Or get the same sounds from a seagull's shriek? Maybe yes, maybe no. But nobody will ever know for sure - as like you, him, her, them – I am locked into my own perceptual world.
Sharing a theatrical experience with people whose perceptions, cognitions, mobility and health are undoubtedly poles apart from my own is a humbling and thought-provoking experience. Frozen Light Theatre creates shows for an all too often invisible community – those living with profound multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). This makes Frozen Light a highly unusual theatre company, totally reliant on funding and only likely to perform to very small audiences in intimate theatre spaces.
And this is one of their core values, no compromise allowed – Frozen Light bring their shows into theatres, no draughty school gymnasium or tired village hall to be found on their extensive tours. The target audience - the PMLD community, which of necessity includes carers, relatives, teachers – is to rub shoulders with other theatre-goers in a fully accessible community space.
Coming to a theatre is a rare event for this group and Frozen Light do things slightly differently to make the unknown as comfortable as possible for their audience. A full colour, large type summary story is sent out to all participants beforehand, so they know what is to come. Naturally no spoilers! On arrival audience members are greeted and seated by a cast member, beginning a process of familiarisation and bonding which leads into an immersive theatrical experience designed to stimulate and delight the senses.
And what a treat it is. Clever too. There is a story line – think apocalyptic, mythical, symbolic – accessible on many levels. It is told slowly, in bite-size chunks, with repetition. It's not possible to say what all the audience made of the narrative but there was enough to keep me thinking for a long while. The set and costumes are amazing – all ochre and old clothes, bits of wire and pulleys, a stunning giant geometric building block providing coloured light effects.
For me, the joy and the renewal stemming from this show come from the communication with the actors, the sheer delight of the sensory banquet - being sprinkled with fairy dust (gold glitter), participating in bubble play, loving the light show – and the amazing music. It makes you feel like getting to your feet and singing and dancing. And then you remember that some of the audience can't do that. Except, perhaps, for a few daydream moments participating in a show like this ...
So, massive plaudits to the hugely talented cast – devisers, writers, musicians, singers - Lucy Garland, Amber Onat Gregory and Al Watts. What you are doing is great theatre and great work. Home is that rare thing – a piece of theatre that makes you think differently, feel differently and stays with you long after you've left the theatre.
|Event venues and times
||Old Fire Station | George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AQ
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